Before I even opened the box, I knew it was going to be an incredible product. I had clicked through the Mission Workshop website for a solid hour the week prior to receiving their Vandal backpack now just inches from my sweaty paws. Tearing into the box I was excited to see such an amazing piece of gear, and beamed with a rush of American pride. Mission Workshop products are made right here in the United States, in the historic sector of San Francisco’s Mission District.
Mission Workshop produces a focused collection of packs, messenger bags, and apparel aimed at the urban commuter market. Their designs are clean, utilitarian, stylish, and thoughtfully appointed with everyday features. The construction and materials are quite frankly, unrivaled. This is a pack destined to endure years, if not decades, of loyal service. Metal hardware, waterproof zippers, and multi-layered ripstop fabrics are the foundations on which their packs and bags are made. These materials are joined with impeccable precision, each stitch and seam a masterpiece.
For weeks I had surfed through the Mission Workshop website, enamored with each product. I did however keep returning to the Vandal backpack. It was its endless potential that captivated me. Undaunted by the most adverse weather conditions, the Vandal promised to protect anything in its keep, and it can keep a bunch. The Vandal’s most impressive feature is its ability to expand from 29 liters of storage to a cavernous 65 liters. In its expanded configuration, the Vandal is a black hole swallowing anything that comes near it. It almost begs to be tested, so I did. On one trip to the Overland International offices, the Vandal housed my common every day items: laptop, jacket, chargers, sunglass case, water bottle, and other miscellaneous items. It also accommodated a full faced motorcycle helmet with ample room to spare. After offloading much of that gear the Vandal retracted to its stylishly thin form like a super hero after a job done. Silly as it sounds, it’s a fun pack to own in that regard.
Good packs do more than just shuttle your stuff from point to point, they have to be comfortable and useful. The Vandal’s large pack straps and optional waist belt guarantee maximum comfort even with the most offensive loads I carry. Pockets and compartments keep me organized and sorted, never wondering where I stashed my keys. The main compartment can be protected with a clever flap that can also be deployed as a roll-top closure for maximum weather protection. As an overland pack, it will be invaluable as the mobile home for all of my important essentials.
As someone who buys and tests gear for a living, this is easily one of the best products I’ve had the pleasure of using in the last year. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask to inspect the Vandal, and I can’t wait to own more Mission Workshop products. I’ve been eyeballing their Bosun Jacket, just to name one of many items I’d love to own. These days I constantly hear consumers clamoring for products of this caliber, and I’m often one of them. Clamor no more.